Visionary individuals push the boundaries of what’s possible. Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson is undoubtedly a visionary. His charismatic personality and wild business savvy have made his brands iconic and recognizable.
Starting out as a record shop in the 1970s, Virgin grew dramatically through the next several decades, expanding to dozens of media and business ventures. It became an instantly recognizable brand across the world, all fueled by its visionary leader.
Co-opting a Brand
What’s fascinating about Virgin Media is that it is essentially a co-opting of the Virgin name from Branson. Virgin Media is actually a conglomeration of two telecommunications giants, NTL and Telewest. These companies merged in March of 2006, and six months later inked a deal with Richard Branson to use the Virgin name. By the next year, all of the company’s services were branded with the Virgin title and logo. The two companies had previously worked on a referral relationship as they operated in different geographical areas. When they decided to merge, they had overlapping services but not overlapping service areas.
Though they share the Virgin name, Virgin Media is not connected to Virgin Mobile USA in any way beyond their name. Virgin Mobile USA is licensed by Sprint in the United States.
Empire of Communication
With four methods of service, Virgin Media was the first company in the United Kingdom to offer mobile phones, fixed phones, television, and internet services under one brand.
The subsidiaries of Virgin Media are Virgin Media Ireland, Virgin Mobile UK, and Virgin Media Business. The company offers a whole host of communication technology all over the United Kingdom. It has its own fiber-optic cable network, which is constantly expanding and updating.
Virgin Media ran into trouble with British network Sky in 2007 when their contract with the mega channel was set to expire. The two companies were unable to reach a deal to keep Sky on the air with its nine channels over Virgin Media networks. When no deal was reached, the Virgin Media cut the station. The National Consumer Council in Britain accused the companies of behaving like children, but both companies dug their heels in.
In order to bring the companies back together, lawsuits were filed and Sky remained off the air for nearly a year. Eventually, it did happen, though not without a great deal of mudslinging by both sides.
The Sky ordeal represents the biggest issue that Virgin Media has faced in its history thus far.
Towards the Future
In 2013, Liberty Global bought Virgin Media for fifteen billion pounds in cash and stocks. The deal was big enough to require regulatory approval, but it was granted through the European Union.
Virgin Media Television produces content for Virgin Media.
The company has one-fifth of the market share in broadband in the UK. It has almost three and a half million subscribers to its television network. To promote that business, Virgin Media has relied on celebrity advertising with the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Usain Bolt, not to mention original Virgin founder Richard Branson.